Colchester head coach John McGreal said it was “one of the best feelings” to see his side grab a stoppage-time winner and snatch a 1-0 victory over Salford.
Harry Pell nodded in after Frank Nouble had flicked on a corner to net the U’s winner in the third minute of stoppage time, leaving them a point off the top seven.
McGreal added: “We don’t get many feelings like that when we score in the 93rd minute. But credit the boys – I thought in the last 15-20 minutes we came on really strong.
“Even though we dominated possession and had 20-odd shots with four or five on target, they made it a tight game.
“When you look at the experience in their team and the quality they had on the pitch at times, you have to give them credit.
“It was a hard-fought win and we’re glad to be on the right end of it.
“Harry needs games – he’s been out for a number of weeks and has been a little bit indifferent and he knows that himself. But the more games he gets, you know what he gives you.
“He brings you personality and goals from midfield and he popped up with this one.”
A tightly-contested game looked like it was heading for stalemate before Pell’s last-gasp winner.
Colchester enjoyed the bulk of first-half possession, with Salford goalkeeper Chris Neal denying both Kwame Poku and Brandon Comley.
But Richie Towell missed a good chance for Salford just after half-time and the Ammies had an effort ruled out midway through the second half when Luke Armstrong converted from an offside position after Dean Gerken had denied Towell.
But Colchester pushed hard late on and Pell nodded in their winner.
Salford boss Graham Alexander said: “I’m devastated, the same as all of the players and the supporters, because we didn’t deserve that.
“We started the first half well but they had the better of the last 20 minutes of that half, because we stopped passing the ball and trusting each other.
“We reiterated at half-time that we have good players and a good team but we just need to pass the ball and trust each other and we did that.
“I thought we were excellent in the second half and to get that in the final minute is a dagger.
“It’s a crap goal to concede from our perspective and I don’t think we deserved it, to be honest.
“I thought with a little bit of composure around the box and final ball, we’d have certainly scored.
“We got in some great positions but these are the fine margins that we find at the moment.”